Book Review: Protecting Human Rights in Occupied Palestine: Working Through the United Nations

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The United Nations “special rapporteurs on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory” featured in this problematic publication did not invent the strategy of exploiting human rights to delegitimize Israel. Rather, the “credit” belongs to the leaders of the Soviet Union and the Arab regimes. In the 1960s, when the Kremlin’s antisemitism was condemned in the UN, Soviet diplomats and their Arab allies responded by attacking Israel and accusing it of being a racist, apartheid state.1 This led to the infamous 1975 UN General Assembly resolution, which declared Zionism to be racism, and the establishment of a special committee with substantial funding and staff to expand this campaign.

The disappearance of the Soviet Union did not end this soft power campaign, and in 1993 (parallel to the Oslo Accords), the position of Special Rapporteur (SR) on Palestine was created by the UN Commission on Human Rights. The commission (now the Human Rights Council or UNHRC) was well suited for this, as three of the five regional member groups are controlled by the UN’s bloc of Islamic nations. This ensures that its officials—specifically the SR—are at the forefront of the attacks. Facilitating this vilification, the UNHRC’s permanent agenda includes Item 7 that uniquely targets Israel.

This historical context is essential to understanding Protecting Human Rights in Occupied Palestine, a joint production of the three key individuals who have filled the position of special rapporteur: John Dugard (2001–07), Richard Falk (2008–14), and Michael Lynk (2016–22). Their activities are among the core sources of “new antisemitism,” which is characterized by obsessive attacks on Zionism and the Jewish state and its supporters. With the objective of enhancing the reputations of the authors and countering intense criticism, this volume high- lights the façade of their “human rights reporting and analysis” and the ease with which the position of SR is twisted for this agenda and international law misapplied.

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